EDITORIAL: Two years after Aurora theater shooting and no sign of stemming gun violence plague

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No one realistically expected the Aurora theater massacre to, finally, bring an end to the gruesome mass shootings plaguing this country.

But the fact that almost nothing has been done by local, regional or national leaders in the two years since James Holmes killed 12 and injured 70 more at a July 20, 2012 premiere of a Batman movie, is almost as shocking as the calamity itself.

Since the cruel and vicious theater assault, dozens more have died in schools, military installations, college campuses and places that Americans have traditionally revered as safe havens from any kind of violence, especially this kind. Each time, families of the slain and community members rally against this unique form of American terrorism, insisting that the deaths of their loved ones serve to prevent the senseless deaths of others.

gumsIt doesn’t happen. Our polarized government representatives cower in fear of powerful, bullying so-called gun-rights lobbies, threatening to end the political careers of anyone who opposes them. Rather than steer changes in how this country manages its horrific gun problem, it silences any legislative discussion of the issues. This lobby diverts attention from the fact that although revisiting gun control will not solve America’s cancerous gun violence, well-considered changes in legislation and enforcement will make a difference, and probably a big difference.

It is undeniable that modern nations like the United States that control access to guns do not suffer from the U.S. gun-violence disease. And those countries, such as Japan, England, Germany, France and Australia do not suffer from any lack of freedoms or liberties. Hunting and sharp-shooting are important there just like they are here.

In the two years since the Aurora theater massacre, the only thing gun lobbies such as the National Rifle Association have discussed publicly is the need to keep guns from mentally ill people.

The irony is painful. Gun rights stalwarts insist their despise for gun control stems from a fear of loss of liberties. Few things in modern history have undermined individual liberties as has governments stepping into the minefield of personal mental health. The Soviet Union, China and North Korea are infamous in their abuse of their citizens tabbed as mentally unsound.

NRA mouthpiece Wayne LaPierre has repeatedly rallied against gun control and for intervention into the lives of mentally ill people.

The nation’s mental health system is “in complete breakdown,” resulting in not enough of the mentally ill being committed to psychiatric hospitals, LaPierre said. “If we leave these homicidal maniacs on the street … they’re going to kill,” he said. “They need to be committed is what they need to be.”

So which of the 58 million Americans with psychiatric symptoms very much like the growing list of mass shooters do we lock up? And where?

And who decides whether people who accumulate guns and ammunition and talk stridently about government takeovers and prying their guns from their dead hands are gun-rights patriots or mentally ill menaces who need to have their guns removed and be put away?

It would be simpler to control easy access to military-grade weapons capable of exterminating large numbers of people in a fashion that seems to appeal to some mentally ill Americans. By all means, we must pursue ways to improve the mental health of all Americans and ensure those who are dangerous to themselves or others get the help they need. But if we’re waiting on effective ways to get future mass shooters off the streets before they strike, America can’t wait that long.

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Liz Boucher
Liz Boucher
7 years ago

Thank you for continuing the discussion about gun control and your last paragraph about “would be simpler to control easy access to military grade weapons, etc”. WHY isn’t this EVER the main topic of gun-control legislation or at least discussion? I am reading your newspaper in Massachusetts where I’ve been told we have some of the toughest gun-control laws in the USA but still no talk of taking automatic (military-style) weapons out of public sale. I’m so frustrated and have spoken to my State Legislator but even though he is a Democrat, he doesn’t believe in that much control. Unbelievable. Please keep up the good work in writing these editorials. Thank you.

Aldo Elmnight
Aldo Elmnight
7 years ago
Reply to  Liz Boucher

How many automatic weapons (make sure you google what this means) have been used in crimes?

Only you can cure your ignorance.

Aldo Elmnight
Aldo Elmnight
7 years ago

Constitutional carry (no permits, no background checks) is the only lawful posture the gov should take with guns. ALL fedgov gun laws are unconstitutional. As for our horrific gun violence consider this: if you take out gun crime committed by blacks and Hispanics ( which are classified as white in gov stats) our gun crime rate is lower than all the enlightened socialist counties in Europe. This is not due to race but to subcultures created and fostered by secular progressive poverty pimps where pride is promoted as a virtue.